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The Man in the Mirror

by Lori Woodward on 12/8/2010 8:33:12 AM

Today's Post  is by Lori Woodward, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews. She also writes "The Artist's Life" blog on American Artists' Forum. Lori is a member of The Putney Painters, an invitational group that paints under the direction of Richard Schmid and Nancy Guzik.  Find out how you can be a guest author. 



Actually, I'm the woman in the mirror... but I like the alliteration with the M's.


Recently I wrote a post for Fine Art Views, saying that if I begin working on my New Year's resolutions now (in early November) that by the time January first arrives, I will be living my resolutions.


In this busy month of December, my thoughts return to who I hope to be in 2011 - a new and improved version of myself. Goals are reached in small steps; making dramatic changes overnight isn't logical - at least not for human beings. While some people might be able to morph themselves into their dream persona quickly, that's never worked for me.


As I look forward to what CAN BE in 2011, as I make small daily changes and give up spending too much time worrying about the unimportant things, I can focus on the things that matter in the long run. I love making lists, but either lose them or never get around to actually doing them, but now I want to be a woman of action. I don't care what's on the list so much as I care about how I live, what I actually do (instead of saying what I'm going to do).


Dreams are Attained Through Actions


Without daily and repeated action, there is no change. Without action there is no improvement.


So today, I'm taking a look into the mirror and asking myself who do I want to see in that mirror? Of course, it's still gonna be Lori - but what new and improved version of Lori might I see? What two or three things must happen for me to feel like I'm living the life I long to live? I'm going to be specific in my descriptions here, and not bother making a long list because long lists are just another excuse to avoid doing any of it.


1. I want to see less flab and more muscle.

2. I want to see myself holding up an (18x24 or larger) masterfully painted landscape. (or several)

3. I want to see a genuine smile on my face - one that comes from gaining satisfaction from relationships and work.


Yeah, there's the house, the yard, cooking, and all those other every day things that go with life... but if I let those become an excuse to not achieve my greatest desires, nothing will change. Then when I look in the mirror, I see the same person I was yesterday - not a bad person, mind you, but not my optimal self either. In order to become great at anything, one must make sacrifices. I'm not saying you should put your work goals before relationships, but you can be considerate and nice to others on a daily basis and still pursue your dreams. Explain to them how important it is that you become that new and improved version of yourself. I hope, for your sake that the people who are close to you support your efforts.


It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that the most successful artists spend the majority of their time working. Real work... difficult work... work that stretches their abilities. As Malcolm Gladwell states, it takes 10,000 hours to master anything. When I was taking tennis in college, the coach said one had to hit 600,000 tennis balls to get to the professional level. But I'll take this analogy further, just hitting balls or doing something without improvement, focus, or education doesn't necessarily make you an expert. Experts know what they're doing, they know where they need to get and they stay on that road steadily until they reach it.


So today, I exercise! Today, paint - without interruption! Day by day, the image in the mirror I wish to see will match the image I do see.




This article originally appeared at

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Related Posts:

My Busy, Busy Life

Why Great Artists Should Procrastinate

Romancing Your Gift

Topics: FineArtViews | inspiration 

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tom weinkle

This is a great post, and very inspirational. If you start making masks of your face, I will wear one in my mirror. Hah.

You're right though, small steps, and consistency.

A friend once told me (paraphrasing some wise person in the past) there are three of each of us: the one we see, the one other's see, and who we really are. To me, the goal is to get those three in line.



irene Salley
What an inspirational article, Thank you Lori for reminding us of the simple truth. Only the courage to face reality and taking action will take us where we want to be, that place where we feel so peaceful and content. Have a wonderful holiday season

Michael Cardosa
Hi Lori,

Thanks for the posting! Is it in poor taste to steal someone's goals? Less flab and more muscle, a brilliant landscape painting and a smile on my face all would make me happy in 2011!

Good luck with the goals.


Sharon Weaver
I recently met an artist I admire and told him how much I love his work. He gave credit to god for giving him his talent. I replied, "That my be true but, a lot of artists have talent but only a few use that talent to the fullest." Without action the blessing of talent is wasted.

Carol McIntyre
When I look in the mirror, does that mean I should clean it first?.....for example, remove that film of denial? LOL! :)

Thank you Lori, for inspiring us once again.

Making our 2011 resolutions resolute requires continuous action. Without action our new years resolutions become new years hallucinations ...

Thanks for the great article, Lori.

Lori Woodward
Thanks friends for commenting. I guess it's OK to steal goals - they're not copyrighted ;-)

I think I'd better take my own advice today.

Stede Barber
Hi Lori,
I love how specific you are about the EXPERIENCE you want...seeing how you'll look, feel, and be thinking when you look in the mirror.

I learned a small refinement when creating my next-step visions: simply add the words "I am enjoying" at the beginning of each statement. "I am enjoying creating beautiful, masterfully painted landscapes" for example (that's one of mine). It adds a whole lovely element to my goals, and moves them from pressure into joy.

Here's to an inspired 2011 for all of us and our work!

Teresa Tromp
Dear Lori,

I was so inspired by your post, that I immediately did something to improve my painting skills.
I signed up for your newsletter on your website.
Not only are you a very fine, fine artist, you are a very fine spirit.
God Bless

T. Miller
You're also a very fine writer! I enjoyed reading this. Thanks very much.

Spencer Meagher
A person has to develop their priorities first and then the discipline to keep the priorities in order.
At times it can feel overwhelming trying to hold everything together. It is at these times when the greatest opportunities in life may present themselves.
I'm doing better on keeping priorities straight. Still struggling with discipline, but the older I get the easier it seems to be. Thanks for the great article.

Jill Banks
I LOVED this article. So inspiring and at just the right time.

Last night I held a Home Studio Open House for my collectors, students and strong enthusiasts and it was a whopping success -- psychologically and financially. With tons of sales and incredible prospects, I need to paint a lot (yea!) and drive myself to improve from here.

I need to take advantage of this momentum with the discipline of highly specific goals implemented today.

Thank you, Lori, for such a great article.

Lori Woodward
Wow Congrats Jill! Would you mind sharing any details of how you set it up and promoted your show?

If you're short on time, it's OK, but I certainly would love to hear more.

Lori Woodward
Never mind Jill, I am reading your blog about how you did it.

Marian Fortunati
What a beautifully stated and well written post... one that so many of us can totally relate to and which will help move us all forward.

You did say it... but one thing to keep in mind is something I held on to from my former profession as a teacher and principal... No matter how hard you work, if you end up loosing all the relationships which are important to you because you spent so much time working and away from those you care about, you haven't gained anything. Make sure you know where you are going and learn to balance the priorities in life.

Lori Woodward
Jill, I just posted a link to your blog from Twitter and Facebook. The way you hung the paintings and decorated... so impressed!

Lori Woodward
Yes Marion, thanks for mentioning the part about relationships. People are more important than paintings for sure.

Terry A. Fischer
I too, love this article, I tend to get so cought up in the day to day maintence things that I don't work toward the big ones. Thanks for this push in the right direction

Jill Banks
Wow! Thanks, Lori.

I will write up the how-to's about my home show and possibly submit it as a Fine Art Views article very soon. Submitting articles is one of my goals.

So let's see how I do.

Lori Woodward
Yes, Jill - go ahead and submit an article. I don't have any power over it being published, but I'm sure other artists would greatly benefit from your recent experience.

Esther J. Williams
Lori, my best wishes to you for 2011. The time for change is in the air as the year comes to a close. I can identify with your choices for change. Artists carry a lot of weight in this life, we not only have to juggle all the regular duties that everyone else does, but we need to find time to create and evolve.
For one to change anything in ourselves, we need to believe in it, see it and feel it. Without the belief or a feeling that it can happen, we can not see it or even find the energy to act upon it. Belief can motivate us towards action.

Spencr Meagher
Well stated Esther. If we want to see change in our life we have to make it happen.

Sandy Askey-Adams

You did it again. This post is so helpful and inspiring b/c I try to avoid looking in a mirror when walking by one.
I will have to muster up the courage to look next time. I have so far to go.

PLUS, each artist who replied to your post added something helpful and valuable to what you had written. You brought all that about too. Thank you Lori and thank you to all the artists who replied and shared.
My brain and thinking seems like mush at times, but you all have it so together and/or are heading in that right direction.

AND Jill ...You are inspiring. Your studio art show looks wonderful even though there were not that many posted pictures on your blog.
It is a delight to see the beauty of your works and also your beautiful home. How grateful you must be!!
My gosh, you did it right to get the people there and just by seeing your work was enough to make all those sales.
Every year I tell myself I am going to have a studio art show and sale...but never seem to get around to doing it.
I hope you write an article and post it so we can all read about your show and what you did to make it so successful, besides already having gorgeous art work available for sale.

Hey, I did do something that I have been putting off. I added my oil paintings to my web site.

They are not new paintings b/c I had become allergic to the medium I used to mix the paint, so I had stopped working in the oils some years ago. Then discovered what had been causing the allergy and am now trying to get myself doing the oils again and hopefully improve upon them.....BUT, It is a step just to add those to my web site b/c I thought it might get me doing the oils again..and start getting past that RUSTY feeling if I posted some the web site.

Merry Christmas everyone! And A very Happy New Year. do not want to offend anyone, so if you do not celebrate Christmas, wishing you the very happiest of this holiday season.


Spencr Meagher
Jill loved your blog. Well done. Open houses are fun. I hosted one three weeks ago. You can find my thoughts on it at

Spencr Meagher
Jill loved your blog. Well done. Open houses are fun. I hosted one three weeks ago. You can find my thoughts on it at

Carol McIntyre
Sandy, have you considered water soluble oils? That is what I use and I LOVE them.

Jill Banks
Thanks for sharing your open house experience. You provide a great guide for other artists. (I commented on your post.)

Pam Flanders
Reading your note today brought me to tears, I've felt those same goals inside but not clearly and honestly enough to put into words. You took my exact thoughts and wrote them for all of us to see. One of those incredible "ah ha" moments that one isn't alone in our journey toward self fulfillment. Thank you for sharing and for all the wonderful responses. A true shot in the arm for bridging 2011!

Jill Banks
Hi Sandy,

Thanks for your wonderful comments. I've been floating on air (with bags under my eyes) all day. It was so much work ... and even more fun. REALLY good for my soul.

I will try to post some more photos soon, but tonight my husband is taking me to a very nice restaurant to celebrate our big night.


Congrats, too, on getting your oil paintings on the site. I'm all for enjoying ALL of our accomplishments. We need to pat ourselves on the back.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays,


Teresa Tromp
Your work is beautiful. What is it you are allergic to? Have you tried water soluble oils? If turpentine bothers you, you could try Turpenoid.

Spencer Meagher
Thanks for the post Jill. I enjoy sharing my successes with fellow artists. It's nice when someone can benefit from your past experience. By the way, it looks like you have a lovely home.

Non-artists do enjoy a "peek" into the hidden world of us artists.

Teresa Tromp
What a wonderful experience for you. Congratulations!
Your home looks so warm and cozy, especially with your great works of art on the wall.

Donna Robillard
Thank you for the inspiring and encouraging post. I know I need to spend more time on art, whether it be painting a piece or practicing and sketching. My goal is to use my time more wisely doing the every day kind of things and being more organized by writing down tasks that need to be done and checking them off as I complete them. It is a wonderful thing to see when the items have been accomplished. Yeah!

Jo Allebach
Thank you for putting into better words than I could ever have done. I was thinking the other day "Why not start on the New Year's Resolution now while it is still a ways from 2011," then I realized - hark, it is already a week into December! Time goes by so fast. All I want for Christmas is just those same things you marked as goals for 2011. I am feeling positive about having the perseverance to follow through on my physical, psychological, social and career goals. HAPPY NEW YEAR! everyone.

Joanne Benson
Great post Lori! You are right on and from the sounds of it have motivated a bunch of us slackers! LOL

Jill, Congratulations on your home studio show. Great work and great house!

Mary Pickett
To the point, Lori. Thanks for holding up the mirror for us, too.

Barb Stachow
Lori, Although yes, I would love to do the same as you, I have one more to add to my list, I wish to give back to the world what they have given me, encouragement to do my painting, praise for doing the best I can, and happiness as I paint and volunteer with others to show them the joy of painting!

Sandy Askey-Adams
Thanks Teresa, Jill and Carol about suggestions for the allergy. I was allergic to what I used to mix or thin the oils when needed to use it. It was by a known brand and I do not see it on the market anymore. Also cannot use the straight turpentine.

Barb I like what you wrote about your list...that is about it in a nutshell.
Oh heck everything everyone wrote is helpful and inspiring to GET (or be) POSITIVE For the New Year.

Jo Allebach
Barb, that was a good one to add about giving back to the world. I have been blessed and do want to be able to help the community of the world with my gifts.

Happy Holidays to everyone.

Stede Barber
Jill...Your story is inspirational! I look forward to abundant and joyful times like you just had for all of us. Your home looks beautiful, what a wonderful way to enjoy it's unveiling!

Jill Banks
Thank you, Stede and I hope for this for all of us. It just keeps getting better. I sold another piece the next day to one of my attendees bringing the total sales so far from that one event to 15!!! And, I'm in a holiday show this weekend and a couple who had come to the Open House bought a painting. It made a difference that they had seen almost all my artwork in one place earlier in the week. They felt sure they were making the right choice. Other visitors to the Holiday Show want to see more of my work and I will be bringing them to my house after I return my work (what's left of it) to the walls in my house. One is interested in my NYC street paintings which sold out during my home show -- with one as a work in progress that she can look at. There's a lot of momentum, too, when people know that if they delay making a decision, they might not get the piece they want. I'm still on cloud nine.

Stede Barber
As you deserve to be, Jill! Your work is beautiful; I love that you draw as well as paint.

Carol Schmauder
I enjoyed reading this Lori. You have some great goals, similar to mine I might add. I know you will achieve those things you want to achieve.


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